Are you posting on YouTube without a license?

Regulating home-based businesses is a tricky proposition. My first inclination is that someone should be allowed to work from home without interference from government, but the liberty of the person working is not the only thing to consider. Increased traffic in the neighborhood affects others, and loss of property value is a concern. Local government must consider the neighbors as well.

Of course, there is a difference between real harm and neighbors being jerks for no legitimate reason. Someone should not have his livelihood threatened because his neighbors are vindictive or hysterical. Some reasonable regulations on home-based businesses are appropriate. Some, of course, are not:

But by uploading gaming videos and making money from content produced at home, the county claimed he was operating an unlicensed residential business. His income doesn’t even involve seeing clients at his house, but to avoid further legal trouble, he handed over $470 for a license.

This hits home for me, obviously. I do not make any money from my blog (and I have no interest in doing so) but if I did I would fall under the same category. Given how overly restrictive Bloomington city government is, I can easily see myself getting smacked for some sort of violation if I sold advertising or set up a Patreon or something like that. The fact that I am a political opponent of city government, and a former candidate for office, would make that persecution even more likely.

There is zero difference between someone who uploads videos to YouTube for fun and someone who monetizes his content to earn a living. If Justin Chandler was doing his gaming videos as a hobby and not making any money, local government would have no “legal” grounds for persecuting him. For greedy local government officials, this is not about enforcing the law. This is a way to grab some cash via extortion.

But here is a problem: The First Amendment. Government cannot legally punish someone for uploading videos to YouTube. Since there is no difference between someone who earns money via YouTube and someone who produces identical content without monetizing his videos, the “law” is obviously an unconstitutional attack on free speech. In an ideal world, this sort of unconstitutional action would be subject to criminal penalties including prison time. That is how seriously we should take free speech and efforts to silence it.

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